“Reclaimed Rubber: An Eco-Friendly Building Material You’re Overlooking”

“Reclaimed Rubber: An Eco-Friendly Building Material You’re Overlooking”

Reclaimed Rubber: An Eco-Friendly Building Material You’re Overlooking

Introduction

Reclaimed rubber is an often overlooked sustainable building material with many benefits. As concerns about environmental impact grow, reclaimed rubber presents an opportunity for architects, contractors, and homeowners to make an eco-friendly choice.

In this article, I will discuss what reclaimed rubber is, its properties and benefits, and examples of its use in buildings and construction projects. I aim to demonstrate why reclaimed rubber deserves more attention as a green, durable, and cost-effective building material.

What is Reclaimed Rubber?

Reclaimed rubber refers to recycled rubber from discarded tires and other rubber products. It involves processing used tires and industrial rubber waste, cleaning and shredding the materials, and incorporating the recycled rubber particles into new products.

The recycling process creates three types of reclaimed rubber:

  • Crumb rubber – Small, granulated particles of recycled rubber.

  • Shredded rubber – Irregular shredded pieces that maintain their fibrous structure.

  • Whole tires – Repurposed used tires that keep their original shape.

Reclaimed rubber contains no virgin materials – it consists entirely of recycled content. Using reclaimed rubber helps keep tires out of landfills and reduces the need to manufacture new rubber products.

Benefits of Using Reclaimed Rubber

Reclaimed rubber offers many advantages as a sustainable and versatile building material:

Renewable and Recyclable

  • Reclaimed rubber comes from a renewable resource – used tires and industrial rubber scraps that would otherwise go to waste.

  • It can be recycled again and again, reducing landfill waste.

Durable and Low Maintenance

  • Products made from reclaimed rubber last a long time. The material is resistant to weathering and wear.

  • It does not require much upkeep, coatings, or protective treatments.

Good Acoustic and Thermal Insulation

  • Reclaimed rubber effectively dampens noise when used as flooring or wall insulation. This helps control sound transmission.

  • It slows heat transfer and serves as an effective building insulator.

Cushioning and Impact Absorption

  • Flexible reclaimed rubber products provide cushioning that reduces injuries from falls.

  • Shredded rubber can absorb shock and impact when used in athletic tracks or underneath playground equipment.

Cost Savings

  • Reclaimed rubber is often cheaper than other building materials because it makes use of waste.

  • Its durability results in lower maintenance costs and less frequent replacement.

Applications of Reclaimed Rubber in Buildings

Many parts of buildings can be constructed using eco-friendly reclaimed rubber:

Flooring

Rubber floor tiles or rolls made from recycled tire rubber provide durable, comfortable flooring. Cushioned rubber floors reduce injuries from falls. The material resists damage from heavy foot traffic.

Roofing

Rubber roof coverings offer weatherproof protection. They hold up well to sun, heat, cold, and precipitation. Layers of recycled rubber roofs can be applied over existing roofs.

Landscaping and Pathways

Rubber mulch, mats, and paving stones create soft, pervious outdoor surfaces for play areas, gardens, and walkways. Rubber landscaping materials provide aesthetic appeal and safety.

Wall Insulation

Shredded rubber insulation pumped inside wall cavities reduces heat transfer through walls. This enhances energy efficiency and indoor comfort.

Impact Sound Insulation

Recycled rubber pads or sheets placed under floors, stairs, or gyms absorb noise and soften impact. This provides acoustic insulation and cushioning.

Vibration Dampening

Rubber rail pads installed under train tracks absorb vibration and limit noise. Recycled rubber materials can also control vibration in bridges, factories, and equipment.

Examples of Reclaimed Rubber Use in Green Buildings

Many modern eco-friendly construction projects have incorporated reclaimed rubber:

  • The Kendeda Building at Georgia Tech used recycled rubber in its roofing and walkways. This “Living Building” is LEED Platinum certified.

  • The Enterprise Center in St. Louis has a recycled rubber pad system under its basketball court to cushion impacts.

  • Transit stations in Los Angeles and Chicago feature rubber floor tiles containing recycled tire rubber. This flooring withstands high traffic loads.

  • Playgrounds and outdoor recreation centers often have poured-in-place rubber surfacing or rubber mulch containing shredded recycled tires.

  • Utah’s Interstate 15 reconstruction used recycled rubberized asphalt concrete to repave parts of the interstate. This “rubberized road” reduces noise.

Conclusion

Reclaimed rubber deserves consideration as an eco-friendly, high-performing building material. It has excellent durability, insulation, cushioning, and acoustic properties. Using reclaimed rubber reduces waste while creating comfortable and sustainable buildings. With growing interest in green construction, this versatile material holds great potential that should no longer be overlooked.